Multiple device control over Wi-Fi is an improvement over line-of-sight infrared, users feel. Crisp, responsive touch screen. Fair battery life. Good customer support. Works with Alexa.
Complicated to set up and program. Device updates are annoyingly frequent. Bluetooth pairing with devices can be problematic. Touchscreen is overly sensitive. Reports of hub failing after a few months. Many users miss the tactile feel of analog buttons.
Easy to configure through Windows or Mac computers, users find, with intuitive programming help available. Analog buttons are a good backup for the small touch screen. Good customer service and tech support.
Reports of remote failing after a few months. Multitasking between devices can mean a lot of button pushing. Not compatible with certain streaming devices like the Fire Stick. Device can go into reset loop.
Comfortable, ergonomic grip. Very intuitive analog button placement that complements its programmable interface. Good backlighting, users note. Fast setup through website, mapping to multiple devices.
Learning mode is a little glitchy. Some users have difficulty programming the remote and its macros. Remote can un-sync with devices. May not work with older media devices. Preprinted button stickers are a pain to cut out and apply.
Backlight is bright. Air mouse centers on TV right away and is easy to turn off and on. Calibration is easy. Bluetooth link between USB dongle and remote is strong. Connects to most devices without extra programming or updates needed.
Some owners had great difficulty programming the remote. On-screen pointer is too jittery for fine control, and mouse needs frequent recalibrating. Keypad controls aren’t laid out intuitively. Infrared learning doesn’t always work. Needs to be reset often.
Reprogrammable for multiple devices. Intuitive key layout. Able to navigate and scroll through Windows 8 tiles and Media Center. Wi-Fi signal has decent range. Long battery life. Owners are generally happy with warranty service.
Programming can be difficult, and remote-to-remote pairing is a bit glitchy. When air mouse is turned on, several keypad functions are disabled. Doesn’t work consistently. Some have trouble getting volume buttons to sync with devices. Keypad is hard to see and isn’t backlit.
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You've got your TV, digital box, streaming stick, Blu-ray player, game console, and stereo system. Now you've upgraded to a smart lighting system and thermostat. Before you know it, your home is littered with so many remote controls it's nearly impossible to keep track of which one does what. If this sounds like your life, you need a smart remote to come to the rescue. You'll be surprised by how streamlined your home can be when you have a single remote to control everything.
How do you pick the best smart remote? Which one fits all your personal requirements? When you're new to the world of smart remotes, the whole process can seem baffling. We at BestReviews are here to help you out. To create our in-depth reviews, we test products in our labs. We buy those products from the store, just like our readers do, to avoid any chance of bias that might arise from receiving free products from manufacturers. What's more, we gather expert opinions and data from existing customers to bring you the full picture.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to find your perfect smart remote.
A smart remote is essentially an advanced version of a universal remote.
Smart remotes are able to connect to all your entertainment devices so you can control them all from one place.
All but the most basic smart remotes should also be able to connect to smart home devices such as lighting systems, security cameras, and thermostats.
As long as your internet connection is secure, a smart remote shouldn't pose a security risk in a home that's filled with connected devices.
These are the most similar to a standard remote control.
Some switch between devices using different codes; others switch at the press of a button.
While button-based smart remotes might seem more familiar to the technology-averse user, they tend to be less intuitive to use than touch-screen versions.
Some button-based smart remotes use a motion-controlled pointer system, projecting a cursor onto your TV so you simply point and click rather than press buttons.
These remotes have an integrated touch screen.
Most of these remotes combine a screen with buttons; some feature a screen only.
Once they're set up, these remotes are fairly simple to use. You simply select the relevant device or action from the screen.
You can set quick commands to do common actions – turn on the TV or roll down the blinds – with a single press on the touch screen.
These apps for your tablet or smartphone turn your device into a smart remote.
Some smart remotes come with an app that adds an extra layer of functionality, but you can also find standalone smart remote apps. (We wouldn't recommend a standalone smart remote app for most users, so we won't be focusing on them in this guide.)
Even with a smart remote app, most smartphones and tablets aren't able to control devices that rely on infrared (IR), such as TVs and stereos, since they’re unable to emit IR beams.
You can find touch-screen remotes that "know" which device you're pointing them at and change the controls displayed on the screen accordingly.
The job of a hub is to wirelessly connect any home devices that are controlled via WiFi. Some smart remotes include a hub. When you use your smart remote to operate connected devices, the remote communicates with the hub, which in turn communicates with your desired device. This allows you to control various smart devices that you wouldn't be able to operate with a standard remote.
Many high-end smart remotes come with an integrated app that you download onto your smartphone or tablet and use in addition to the remote. Most smart remote apps also connect to your hub, allowing you to control your devices when you're not home. For instance, you could turn on your furnace ten minutes before you get home or turn on the television to make it seem as though someone is in the house.
Most smart remotes aren't able to directly control devices via WiFi. Instead, they use a hub as a "middleman" to achieve the same effect.
Different smart remotes use different methods of control in order to communicate with and operate devices. The best remotes feature a range of methods to easily operate a range of devices.
IR or RF: Some smart remotes use IR to control basic entertainment devices such as TVs, Blu-ray or DVD players, and stereos. Others use radio frequency (RF), which many consider superior because you don't have to be within the line of sight of a device to control it.
WiFi or Bluetooth: Many smart remotes can also control devices via WiFi or Bluetooth, usually with the help of a hub or integrated smartphone app.
It's important to consider how easy or hard to use your chosen smart remote is. If you feel like you need a degree in computer science just to switch between controlling your TV and your lighting system, you're making your life harder than it needs to be. Look for a smart remote with user-friendly controls. While you can expect a bit of a learning curve when starting to use your new remote, it shouldn't feel like a chore.
Smart remotes that use WiFi or Bluetooth are able to control smart home devices, while those that only use IR or RF cannot.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $250 for a smart remote.
Basic button-based smart remotes cost as little as $30 to $50. You'll have to pay closer to $100 for a higher version that can control smart home devices and entertainment systems.
Basic touch-screen smart remotes start at about $100. More advanced models that come with a hub and app integration can cost as much as $250.
The best smart remotes don't require "line of sight" to operate linked devices. For example, they allow you to switch your downstairs stereo system on or off from upstairs.
Think about the number of devices you want to control. Most smart remotes can only control a limited number of devices, usually between five and 20, although a handful of models can control an unlimited number of devices.
Consider the battery life of your chosen smart remote. Those with touch screens tend to use more power.
Decide where you'll place your hub. Some hubs need to be hardwired to the internet, while others can be tucked away in a cabinet.
Select a fairly durable smart remote. No matter how careful you are with your new remote, it's probably going to take a few dives off the coffee table or couch. Look for a model that won’t fall apart after a few knocks and bumps
Note the quality of the touchscreen. Not all touch screens are created equally. Some have a crisper image and are more responsive than others.
Check the power options. While most smart remotes use standard batteries – usually AAA or button – some recharge via a USB cable.
Q. Why should I buy a smart remote?
A. The main reason to buy a smart remote is convenience. It's far more convenient to have one remote that does everything than a small arsenal of remotes. Why shouldn't you make your life a little bit easier? If you have one remote that you always keep in the same place, it's less likely to get lost. If you have several different remotes, you’ll probably have to spend time searching for the right one. Also, let's not forget that trading in multiple remotes for just one reduces clutter.
Q. Are smart remotes easy to set up?
A. How easy you find your smart remote to set up will depend on the model you choose and how tech savvy you are. Some smart remotes are moderately challenging to set up, but most users don't find it too difficult if they read the manual carefully.
Q. Are smart remotes compatible with Amazon Echo and other smart speakers?
A. Some smart remotes are compatible with smart speakers like Amazon Echo. You first need to link your smart speaker and your smart remote. After that, you should be able to verbally tell your smart speaker to use your smart remote to turn on and operate any of the devices it controls.
INT-422 4-in-1 Universal Backlit IR Learning Remote for Apple TV, Xbox One, Roku & Media Center